The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard
Series: The Riven Chronicles #1
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Published by Strange Chemistry (12.17.2013)
Paperback, 432 pages
Seventeen-year-old Riven comes from a world parallel to Earth, a world that has been ravaged by a devastating android war. As a Legion General, she is the right hand of Prince Cale, the young Prince of Neospes. In her world, she’s had everything: rank, responsibility, and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to rescue his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.
Armed with the mindset of a soldier and racing against time to bring Caden home, Riven must learn how to blend in as a girl in a realm that is the opposite of all she’s ever known. Will she be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?
At first I liked the concept, but I lost interest in this one. I made it to page 135 before I had to put it down. The pace was quite painful and just dragged along and I couldn’t take it anymore.
I had some issues with it, but it wasn’t anything major. The book wasn’t terrible, but overall I just felt “meh” about it. I was disappointed in the world building to say the least – it had such a great concept but the delivery fell flat. There was practically no world building, and the little snippets we do get were hard to piece together and I had trouble grasping the world that Howard was trying to create. Some of the explanations made absolutely no sense and I really had no clue where she was trying to go with it. Here’s an example:
“Guns won’t kill Vectors. They’re programmed to dodge the trajectory of bullets. Something about the sound of the metal, I think. The only way to kill them is a sharp blow to the head or severing the spinal column.”
“But people are much slower than bullets,” Caden argues.
“But we’re less noticeable. That’s our advantage over them. By the first bullet, they know where you are. If you miss, you’re dead. It’s a small window, but useable. It’s all about speed, flexibility and unpredictability. With a knife or a sword, you have to get in real close, but once you strike true, they go down.”
“I don’t get it. What’s the difference between that and a gun?” Caden asks.
“Like I said, Vectors can hear bullets coming a mile away. Arrows are a lot quieter.”
I also didn’t care for and couldn’t connect to Riven. She was practically a robot! I understand there was reason for it – she had seen a lot of death and killing – but it just didn’t work for me. I didn’t care for any of the other characters, either. They were all pretty bland and I didn’t get much feeling from any of it. I just didn’t care.
The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Published by Poppy (4.15.2014)
eARC, 337 pages
Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.
Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and — finally — a reunion in the city where they first met.
A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith’s new novel shows that the center of the world isn’t necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.
I made it to page 50 before I had to put this one down. It’s not that it was bad, necessarily, it’s just that it wasn’t holding my interest at all. I was bored from the start and had a really hard time getting into it. When there’s nothing happening in the story except dialogue and mundane everyday stuff, the writing really has to pick up the slack, and in this one it just didn’t. The prose was just flat and uninteresting and I couldn’t force myself to continue any further I’m afraid.
Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Published by HarperTeen (1.19.2016)
ARC, 384 pages
Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.
Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.
I made it to page 96 before I had to put this down. The first 70 pages were nothing but learning about and studying the language and symbols, with a little bit of romance sprinkled in. Even the romance wasn’t a reprieve from the studying, though, because it did absolutely nothing for me. It already kind of existed going into the story, and it just happened. There was no developing feelings, no chance to fall for the Prince as Raisa did. She had a crush on him, and then one day he liked her back. *yawn*
I got absolutely no feeling whatsoever from Raisa. The prose was very dry, and I couldn’t make any sort of connection. I couldn’t tell any of the characters apart, because they were all the same to me. I struggled to understand the world and its culture, particularly the history of the Gods. There were so many that I couldn’t keep them all straight, and the explanations were weak so I couldn’t grasp any of it. I did understand that Arnathim were slaves and the Qilarites the oppressors. That was about it, though.
It’s definitely not what I was expecting at all. I was expecting what I was promised in the synopsis – “a captivating tale of war, political intrigue, and the boldness of a slave girl who has the power to bring the entire kingdom to its knees.” All I really got was romance and language. Booorrriiiiing.
I did skim the last third or so of the book, but it didn’t seem to pick up at all. Even then there seemed to be nothing much happening.
I actually loved Sword and Verse. Sorry you didn’t enjoy it.
I haven’t tried any of these. Sorry they didn’t work for you. Better luck with your next read.